U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Announces No Fish Hatchery Closures This Year

Friday, November 15, 2013

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Friday announced that it does not intend to close any of the nation’s national fish hatcheries in the current fiscal year, but warned that closures may be necessary in FY 2015 given fiscal uncertainty and growing operations costs.  The Service released a report Friday examining the challenges facing the Service’s National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS), which will serve as the basis of discussions with stakeholders on how best to operate the system in a more sustainable manner while supporting the agency’s highest fish and aquatic conservation priorities.

“This report sounds the alarm on a hatchery system unable to meet its mission responsibilities in the current budget climate,” said Service Director Dan Ashe.  “In the coming months through the 2015 budget process, I have directed the Service to work with all of our partners to determine whether the options identified in the report, or others, are necessary and appropriate to put the system on a more sustainable financial footing.” 

Director Ashe added that the agency intends to take immediate actions to prevent imminent closures, but noted that additional actions may be necessary to address long-term funding shortfalls.

“We are putting a Band-Aid on the hatchery system.  Unless we can find a way to cover costs in a more sustainable fashion, the system will eventually need surgery,” said Mr. Ashe.  “The challenges we are facing are not new; however, we have reached the point where – in the absence of long-term solutions – we will have no option but to make tough choices to bring expense in line with actual revenues.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) released the following statement on the on the report. He made his remarks after talking with Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe on the report’s contents.

Senator Alexander said, “It is fortunate that we have an ongoing three-year agreement between the Tennessee Valley Authority and state and federal wildlife agencies to keep Tennessee’s hatcheries open and producing fish, but the threat of closure still exists. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s report, which does not recommend closing Tennessee’s hatcheries next year, emphasizes the importance of the working group that’s trying to come up with a permanent solution.  I will help to find a long-term solution, because the nearly 900,000 Tennesseans and visitors who buy fishing licenses in our state depend upon these hatcheries, as they are the principal reason Tennessee has some of the best trout fishing in the country.”

The working group includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee and Georgia state wildlife agencies. TVA signed an agreement with federal and state wildlife agencies in May to pay more than $900,000 per year for the next three years to replace fish killed by TVA dams, and keep Tennessee’s hatcheries producing fish while the working group develops a permanent solution.

National fish hatchery operations have been greatly impacted by sequestration, which reduced the NFHS budget, in the face of increasing operations costs.  If sequestration continues into FY 2014, the Service will have lost close to $6 million in appropriations for hatchery operations funding since FY 2012, while operations costs have continued to rise.  In response, the Service in the fall of 2012 launched a comprehensive review of the 70 fish and aquatic species propagation hatcheries to ensure it will be positioned to address highest priority aquatic resource needs now and into the future while working within its budget limitations.

The National Fish Hatchery System: Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report outlines the current propagation programs as well as problems associated with sustaining operation of the NFHS in its current configuration, and suggests possible changes to how the system could be managed under several different scenarios.  The report identifies the NFHS’s focus on five priorities for fish and aquatic species propagation, including: recovery of species federally listed as threatened or endangered; restoration of imperiled aquatic species; tribal trust responsibilities; other propagation programs for native species; and other propagation programs for non-native species.

The Service will use the analysis to engage stakeholders in a discussion of the future of the NFHS. The Service is also working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Bonneville Power Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority and has put in place agreements to provide reimbursable funds for the operational costs associated with mitigation fish production on streams and rivers impacted by federal water resources projects.  Congress supported these steps, in recognition that the Service can no longer fund the production of fish for mitigation of federal water resources projects within its current budget.




“A Land Defiled: The Environmental Impact Of The Civil War On Chattanooga" Program Slated For March 4

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will provide a one-hour, ranger-facilitated discussion on the environmental impact of the Civil War on Chattanooga on Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. This program will take place at Orchard Knob Reservation in Chattanooga, at the intersection of Ivy Street and Orchard Knob Avenue. "In his novel, The Two Towers, author J.R.R. Tolkien ... (click for more)

Deer Experts From Across Country To Gather In Nashville For Annual Meeting

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will host the annual gathering of the top deer researchers and managers in the Southeast and beyond, Feb. 19-21in Nashville. The 41st Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group at the Millenium Maxwell House Hotel will bring to Music City biologists, managers, and researchers who oversee the management of the country’s most popular ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In Accident Involving 18-Wheeler On Ochs Highway

A person was killed Saturday morning on Ochs Highway. An 18-wheeler was coming down the mountain, and hit three cars traveling up the mountain. Ochs Highway was closed in both directions, and HAZMAT crews were at the scene. More information will follow. (click for more)

Erlanger, UT Medical Say Working To Resolve Issues

Erlanger Health System and University of Tennessee College of Medicine officials said they are working through some issues, but expect to maintain their long-standing relationship. The entities said they "are facing a number of historic matters that are being addressed in a proactive manner. Our intentions are to transition to a more contemporary model, thereby enhancing ... (click for more)

The Right To Bear Arms, But Not Assault Rifles - And Response (2)

I am not a bleeding heart, liberal, left leaning, anti-second amendment person. I am a politically moderate conservative who believes in the right to bear arms, but not assault rifles. I am also a retired school principal who is tired of seeing innocent children slaughtered in our schools. I am also tired of nothing being done. Yes, mental health should be considered when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It wasn’t lost on me that during Valentine Week, when we most remember those we love, this first story was included in my weekly email. As has become my habit, every Saturday I try to come up with a new edition of The Saturday Funnies because I get some delightful ones that are shared by my friends during the week. We must never waste a giggle. So in keeping with my ... (click for more)